Virgin London Marathon 2012

The marathon means different things to different people. 26.2 miles. A once in a lifetime challenge. A chance to run as a banana. It’s Sunday, it must be marathon day. “The longest marathon”. “$%£!”$*&^@!!!”; The trouble with a marathon is that it involves a lot of training, dedication to the cause for several months in advance and yet even with a perfect training plan, perfectly completed, it can still all go wrong on the day.

The weather has been a factor in several of the last years, though this year we feared heavy rain rather than sun. For the first time in my memory, the phrase “April showers” has suited the month perfectly, with the
occasional deluge in the week before the marathon giving us all pause. Sunday, though, dawned cool and sunny, with the promise of rain around 1, at which point most of us would be well into the race and Jack would be in the pub. In the event it was better than that, with the sunshine holding out but not getting too strong, and rain not hitting till nearer 3. Pretty much perfect running conditions, give or take a degree or three and perhaps a shower for comfort.

26.2 runners seem to have been present at each start – red, green and blue – and with us all in different pens several of us got the chance to cheer each other on. In addition, great numbers of club members were noisily
spectating (I’m told), and at least two were volunteering – Micky Lill was handing out water at the blue start, and took the time to shake my hand and wish me luck, and Jo Newstead lunged excitedly at me from a
late-on water station. Personally I managed to miss all the support, even Foghorn Peghorn, other than that from a Straggler and a Ranelagh Harrier, but I know that all of you made a difference to a lot of marathon runners. At several points on the course it was like running into a wall of noise, though unlike the other wall-which-should-not-be-named, walls of noise have a great effect on running pace.

To the ladies. Alice Tozer has raised the bar for 26.2 ladies’ performances this year and raced through for a time under 3:10. Katherine Wilson and Sharon Andrew also recorded good for age times, joining Hattie and Zoe Ashcroft in doing so this year. As we waited for runners at the pub, we were all filled with praise for Libby Marchant, who beat Grant’s time from the week before and dipped efficiently under 4 hours. However, Libby has a special joker’s garmin which convinced her she had done 3:55 and she was disappointed! With luck the perspective of time has allowed her to bathe in the glory a little. Sue Garnish ran brilliantly to produce
4:11 – as almost everyone does, she slowed a little in the second half, but unlike most Sue had very consistent 5k split times through 30-35 and 35-40k, and accelerated towards the finish. An excellent debut.
Julie Chasin had trained for a run on a bike, and found it hard going in the second half, but was another to accelerate over the last 2k for a strong finish. And any marathon that doesn’t end in medical care is a good
one… Ann Bath had run a marathon the weekend before so the VLM was about survival – presumably if someone had added on another 30 miles or so she would have kept going.

The men were led home as ever by Sim…hang on, what’s this? Simon Dew produced another strong marathon time, but chose a bad day to not hit 2:44 (as he has in the last two years), being bested on the day by Jack
Holland, who again produced a run worth over 75% in age-graded terms. Both are incredibly modest so we’ll have to say it for them – fantastic running, and brilliant for the club to have two people in our colours under 3 hours. I, on the other hand, am incredibly immodest and am on cloud nine having made it, in fact, 3 people in club colours under 3. I had a perfect race with almost completely consistent pace, a negative split and the
scalp of James Cracknell who made me feel very small as I ran past him – by his sheer size, rather than asking me hard calculus questions. Though he rallied and stayed near me – I knew because he gets plenty of support. It’s because he’s tall. Concentrating only on the quicker times is invidious, but I’ll indulge my inner statto by pointing out the lovely synchronicity of 26.2 having 5 ladies under the Power of 10 (www.powerof10.info) target of 3:45, and 5 men under the 3:00. With thanks to chairman Joe for breaking the drought, it’s quite something that after years where no one broke 3, I run under 2:58 and am the slowest of 5!

Other speedy runners were hampered on the day. Luke McDonagh was dressed as a leprechaun, which slowed him more than a little, while Jason Blair has had rebellious legs that refuse to perform in the latter stages of a run for a while now. David Maher might have taken 3:20 a few months ago – nearly a minute/mile quicker than his pb – but had trained well and hoped for more. Next time, Fast Legs. Neil Parker had gone a more minimal route than Luke; covered on top but with his lower half boasting just pants and some vibrams I’m glad I wasn’t following him. All the pictures suggest he was borderline ecstatic all the way round, and ought to be after a good consistent run – all the hard work in changing running style paying off. Greg had bagged a sub-4 at Brighton the week before and was still able to finish London with a smile, closely followed by Steve Blake, who I missed totally on the day. Kevin Stone was hoping to be a little quicker but still shaved his pb, with more to come. And behind him, two debutants who deserve everyone’s congratulations – Christopher Gosling and Kevin Furlong should both wear their medals with great pride; none ever come easily, and after all the training, niggles and ‘can I?’ thoughts of the last few months, no one can ever take this away from you.

Well done everyone. Bathe in the glow, rest easy, eat well and perhaps start tentatively thinking of the next challenge. For some, an Autumn marathon will be ideal, for others it’s a question of maintaining fitness and perhaps looking at some shorter distances, and for still others it’s time to give back to everyone who has supported you through the long hours of training. Whatever your goal, congratulations, good luck and enjoy your running.

Place Overall Place (Gender) Place (Age Category) Surname Forename Race no. Age Category Half way time Finish Time
396 391 281 Holland Jack 32184 18-39 01:20:17 02:46:22
638 619 409 Dew Simon 591 18-39 01:21:07 02:52:39
997 959 590 Matthews John 18700 18-39 01:29:31 02:57:59
1817 106 77 Tozer Alice 28903 18-39 01:32:06 03:07:48
2973 2690 1344 Mcdonagh Luke 27946 18-39 01:32:09 03:18:17
3272 2938 1462 Blair Jason 33383 18-39 01:33:27 03:20:53
3629 3219 1602 Maher David 23647 18-39 01:31:00 03:23:59
3858 449 283 Wilson Katherine 454 18-39 01:42:10 03:25:45
7922 1509 178 Andrew Sharon 30295 45-49 01:45:03 03:48:22
10087 8026 4128 Parker Neil 26138 18-39 01:57:43 03:56:53
10759 2249 1316 Marchant Libby 26137 18-39 01:57:51 03:59:05
13754 3123 596 Garnish Sue 26136 40-44 02:01:49 04:11:28
16077 3852 2233 Chasin Julie 19855 18-39 01:59:13 04:20:23
16182 12297 2384 Whiteman Greg 53014 40-44 02:05:00 04:20:46
16479 12479 2415 Blake Steve 11455 40-44 02:07:23 04:21:58
18023 13514 2573 Stone Kevin 1127 40-44 02:02:26 04:27:46
20189 5326 60 Bath Ann 29533 60-64 02:04:25 04:36:09
23511 16909 9024 Gosling Christopher 10743 18-39 02:10:47 04:49:30
24021 17187 2375 Furlong Kevin 7501 45-49 02:10:47 04:51:32